In Germany, as far as the economy is concerned, the sun is still shining, but economists and business leaders alike admit the storm clouds are gathering.
Unemployment is at a 20 year low, but over the last three months the totals have started to inch up as the eurozone problems trim exports.
As the Brussels summit started, data showed that German joblessness rose again in June.
German consumers are still buying, but surveys show they are becoming more pessimistic about the economic outlook.
On the floor of the Frankfurt stock exchange, summit expectations are low. Analyst Oliver Roth with Close Brothers Seydler Bank said: “I believe all we can expect at the end is just a marketing gimmick. I mean, they’re talking about a 130 billion euro stimulus package, which can be easily passed. But it doesn’t help the peripheral eurozone countries right now.”
The numbers are grim – according to research from Ernst & Young released on Thursday, private consumption in the eurozone is down this year by 0.7 percent from 2011 and will still struggle next year.
Unemployment is set to rise further, from 11.4 percent of the workforce this year to 11.9 percent in 2013, and overall government debt is forecast to reach 92.1 percent of GDP next year.
For the moment, Germany may be riding relatively high but economists say that cannot last as European austerity measures are sending its most important trade partners into recession and uncertainty over the euro zone debt crisis is weighing on trade and investment.
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